3. FACTORY SITING AND LAYOUT
Having decided to invest in a tile production unit, the first decision is where the factory
should be located. There are three primary requirements for factory location.
Clay Supply Clearly the factory must be in the proximity of good quality and adequate
quantities of clay. Usually clay must be blended, 50 careful preliminary
investigation is in order here. Generally transporting clay over four miles puts a
strain on the economics of production.
Fuel Supply For each 100kg of finished tiles, 50kg of dry fuelwood is needed. A cheap
and reliable supply of fuel is crucial to sustained production. It is interesting to
note that some of the oldest pottery factories in Britain are located near coal
mines, their fuel source, with clay being transported from fairly distant counties,
because more fuel was used than clay.
Transport From the above description alone one can note that getting materials to the
factory is a decisive element to success. Add to this year-round collection of
several truck loads of tiles each week and obviously facilities to get heavy loads to
and from the site are vital. Routes from the site to the clav mines, fuel supplv,
and all major local markets must be paved roads as far as possible.
Of course, the issues of good drainage, stable soil for machine and building
foundations, and property lease and ownership are not to be forgotten, but are not
unique to the needs of a tile factory.
To begin with, a single production unit is advised. The economics of scale in this type of tile
factory are not too substantial beyond the first unit, and developing a local market and
trained workers will require some time.
The key to a successful layout is to keep the path of the clay/tiles as simple as possible. To
layout the factory, follow the product through the complete production cycle on paper. Avoid
any situations where workers must cross paths, and keep the total distance that the products
travel through the factory to a minimum. Figure 17 shows a layout commonly used in Sri
Lanka, with approximate floor area designated to each element. In this configuration a road is
provided at each end of the factory. The same unit could be layed out to require only one
access road with some increase of material movement in the factory. Notice that the entrance
needs to accommodate frequent tractor loads of clay and people on foot, whereas the rear exit
must accommodate standard trucks which are heavily loaded with wares (under all weather
The following dimensions are approximate requirements:
Tile drying stacks
Clay prep, area
Kiln working area